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Equity and the Bible

A Tract Book Essay

By

Anthony J. Fejfar, J.D., Esq., Coif

© Copyright 2007 by Anthony J. Fejfar

The notion of Equity is first found explicitly in the work of the

philosopher Aristotle. Aristotle asserted that an equitable exception must be

made to a general rule to avoid an absurd or wrong result. In Western

history, however, Equity combined with ecclesiastical law, that is Christian

church law, in the medieval period. Ecclesial law often finds its origin in

the Bible. When one looks at the modern Equitable doctrine of

Unconscionability which renders certain contracts void, it is clear that

Equity favors those who are disadvantaged, or in need. The notion that

Equity favors those in need is based both on Natural Law, which is Higher

“Mom” Law, as well as the Christian Bible.

In the Old Testament, in the Book of Isaiah, it is clear that Judges are

to favor and protect the poor and the handicapped. Similarly, as I have

argued before, in the Christian Gospel in the story of Mary, Mother of

Jesus, at the Wedding Feast at Cana of Galilee, it is clear that Mary

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intervened in Equity to have Jesus perform a miracle, turning water into

wine, and saving the wedding reception from disaster. Jesus could only act

in Equity, he was forbidden, at Law, by God the Father at that point in his

career to perform miracles.

Finally, Jesus himself shows that he acts in Equity in the story of the

lost sheep. In this parable, Jesus points out that a good shepard leaves his

flock of good, healthy, sheep, in order to find and rescue a lost sheep who

has strayed from the flock. Obviously, the lost sheep was in some sense

liable at Law for getting lost or wandering off. The good Shepard, acting in

Equity, favors the sheep most in need and goes after him, leaving the

healthy, law abiding sheep to take care of themselves.

Jesus, of course, is the good Shepard. Jesus will leave his flock of

followers in the church to seek out a straying or lost sheep who has left the

flock or the church. Strictly, speaking, this means that Jesus, and those of us

who follow him are instructed to go after the “fallen away” Catholics or

Christians who have left the church. In a more secular setting, we are to

help the poor, the elderly, the working poor, the sick, the handicapped, even

those in jail. This is real Equity.